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Choosing chairs for a commercial building isn’t as straightforward as it seems. These tips will help you select the right style of chair for your facility or space.

Select the Right Type of Chair for Your Building

Sept. 6, 2022
There are many things to consider when selecting chairs for commercial buildings, including the size, color, fabric and purpose of the chair. Learn more.

Choosing chairs for your building may seem like a straightforward process—find a comfortable, affordable chair that matches the room or space. But much more goes into this decision. You’ll need to consider how the chair will be used and how long you need it to last.

To help you select the right style of chair for your building, we put together some general tips as well as suggestions for specific industries.

General Tips for Choosing Your Seating

1. Define the Chair’s Purpose

Before you get attached to the style, color, and aesthetic appeal of a chair, determine the function of the chair. If a person is going to sit in a chair for long hours of work, that’s much different than a chair that someone would use for a quick meal or meeting. Decide if the chair needs to be ergonomic or have any other special features, like reclining, swiveling, or extra padding.

2. Find the Right Chair Dimensions

Next, determine the right dimensions for your seating. A chair that’s used for lounging might be lower, wider and denser than a chair that’s meant for work or dining.

Certain types of chairs (like dining chairs) have standard sizes. Meanwhile, other styles are more customizable—and often more expensive.

Before choosing a chair model, make sure to read through the product specs. In addition to the overall width, depth and height, many manufacturers will provide the seat width, depth and height as well as the armrest height.

This information will help you determine if the chair is appropriate for its intended use.

3. Pick a Color and Fabric that Matches the Room

Furniture should match with its surroundings, but how much do you want it to blend in? You might select a sophisticated chair style that coordinates perfectly with the room. But if the chair is a statement piece, pick a bright color or loud pattern that will stand out.

In addition to finding a chair fabric with the right look, make sure you choose a fabric that is durable. If not, your chair could end up stained, torn or worn down much faster than you planned.

To minimize furniture replacement costs, you may invest in seating that has durable frames and fabrics, especially if the seating is in a high-traffic area.

Chair Considerations for Specific Commercial Spaces

Next, we’ll go through a few different types of commercial buildings and discuss extra considerations you should make for your furniture.

Hotel and Hospitality

Depending how the building is set up, different areas of a hotel lobby could be used as:

  • A waiting area
  • A restaurant or bar
  • A gift shop
  • An area for checking in and getting information

Each of these areas require their own furniture, which has to function properly.

Also consider what kinds of guests will be visiting the hotel. Will you need seating for families with children? Or is the hotel meant for couples or large corporate outings?

If the hotel has a conference center, think about the different ways the room will be used. Depending on the event, you may need an open room, rows of chairs, or table and chair settings. Having lightweight, multipurpose chairs makes it much easier to rearrange the room in a timely manner.

Restaurant Chairs

When selecting restaurant chairs, consider the average staying time for customers. If you’re creating a place where people can sit, relax and eat a big meal, that requires different seating than a café or bar.

The chair style should complement the style, theme and menu of the restaurant. Also consider the size of the space and how much of it will be used for seating. If the room gets too crowded, guests won’t feel comfortable.

But remember that sticking with a simple, straightforward chair makes it easier to clean and maintain.

Chairs for Office Buildings

If you expect to have new tenants often, it may be hard to predict every business’ furniture needs. Therefore, you’ll want to purchase versatile chairs and furniture that fit multiple needs and styles to appeal to prospective tenants.

If your office building has space for collaboration, you may opt for chairs that are easy to move or can swivel. In spaces that require more focused work, chair mobility may be less of a priority.

With many employers opting for office space that suits a hybrid work environment, look for seating that is inviting but allows for safe distancing.

Medical Buildings

A key part in furnishing a medical building is making sure the atmosphere is pleasant and inviting. In addition to the aesthetics, you also need to consider comfort and accommodations for patients and visitors.

You’ll need enough space for wheelchairs and other ADA regulations, so calculate your seating capacity to determine how many chairs you need. When it comes to choosing a model, look for chairs at different heights and sizes to allow visitors to choose a seat they’ll be able to get in and out of. To help prevent falls in the building, make sure chairs are sturdy and have armrests.

Another important factor when choosing seating for medical facilities is the ability to routinely clean them. Look for chairs that don’t have a lot of crevices where bacteria can hide. Ask your seating provider about BIFMA guidelines and testing for cleanability of healthcare furniture products.

There may even be a requirement for the furniture to be made from antimicrobial or antibacterial components.

The Importance of the Right Chair

Ensuring you have the right seats for your building can really affect the success of a business. Some chairs help keep employees comfortable and productive through the workday, while others make guests feel so welcome they’ll want to extend their stay.

About the Author:

Dr. Tom McElheny holds advanced degrees in business and education and is CEO of his company, ChurchPlaza, which provides church chairs and hospitality seating.

About the Author

Contributed Author

BUILDINGS partners with industry experts to bring you contributed content covering the hot topics for building owners and facility professionals.

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